(CHESTER, PA) – The Chester Housing Authority’s (CHA) Ruth L. Bennett Community Farm has been awarded a $750,000 grant from the USDA to support its initiatives to offer opportunities to underserved communities in Chester. CHA and its community farm will use the grant to advance ongoing commitment to food equity by collaborating with community partners, providing hands-on training through individual technical assistance and agricultural workshops, and implementing other initiatives.
“An offshoot of our housing mission at CHA is to help residents – and the community-at-large – have access to healthy and affordable produce and the tools to make a healthy lifestyle attainable. The Bennett Farm is one of our best examples of that,” said CHA executive director Steven A. Fischer. “We are grateful to receive this significant investment from the USDA as we continue to empower Chester residents through our community farm.”
The grant is part of the USDA’s 2501 Program, also known as the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, which partners with nonprofit and community-based organizations to provide technical assistance and training to underserved communities. The Bennett Community Farm is one of 52 organizations across the country and one of only three in Pennsylvania to be included in this $36.1 million round of funding.
“The farm has become a trusted community resource for finding healthy options in what is deemed a food desert,” said farm manager Natania Schaumburg. “This grant will help us support aspiring, beginning, and existing farmers at our incubator farm and food hub sites as we work collaboratively with residents to ensure they have the resources and access to healthy food choices.”
The Bennett Community Farm began as a community garden 14 years ago near CHA’s Ruth L. Bennett Homes – the largest federally subsidized public housing development in Chester – and grew into a community staple after providing residents with the vital resources it lacked for several years.
The farm has featured weekly farmers markets, distributes free food boxes bi-weekly for residents in need, operates a community youth internship program for Chester youth to gain experience in farming, and grows and markets cut flowers which supports the pollinator population. The farm has also become a popular choice for area college students to perform internships and donate their time for workday experience.
Read more about the Chester Housing Authority at www.chesterha.org.